The Springtime in New York Sale at Stereo Exchange

Friday–Sunday, April 13–15, 10am–8pm: Stereo Exchange (627 Broadway, New York, NY) will host a weekend-long series of demonstrations from key players in the hi-fi industry including but not limited to an Einstein-haired speaker designer, young gun salesman, and the king of kables. Stereo Exchange will reward attendees with sale prices on new, demo, and used gear.

Curiously, this event falls on the same weekend as the Chester Group’s New York Audio & AV Show at the Waldorf=Astoria. Also occurring on those same days is the Show at Lyric, another series of demos held at an independent hi-fi dealer in the Manhattan area. David Wasserman at Stereo Exchange says attendees at his show will benefit from the calmer pace inside Stereo Exchange versus the frenetic show environment at the Waldorf=Astoria. Participants will also have the opportunity to ask questions to manufacturers and representatives.

Who exactly will be presenting:

Vince Bruzzese/Totem Acoustic, President: Bruzzese, a bit of an icon in the world of hi-fi with his shocked-top hairdo and signature speakers, works as the primary speaker designer and development supervisor for Totem Acoustic. Bruzzese started Totem in 1987 with the goal of creating a small footprint loudspeaker with high performance. Accordingly with their philosophy, Totem will make the public debut of the Ember mini monitor, part of their Element Series, at Stereo Exchange. Bob Deutsch unearthed the Embers ($4200/pair) at CES earlier this year.

Ray Kimber/Kimber Kable: The Kable King himself, Ray Kimber, will be in attendance with his trusty sidekick, Sales Manager Nate Mansfield. Kimber’s trek to cable design is dotted with ventures in theater management, concert tours, and high-end audio sales, up to the point which he pondered, “If weaving a cable could alter the sound so significantly, I figured everything else about cables was on the table for discovery, rediscovery or reinvestigation.” While Kimber will not be demoing any new products, Ray hopes event guests ask him, “Why do you not release new models every year?”

John Stronczer/Bel Canto, CEO and Chief Designer: John is the everything man and the top dog at Bel Canto, where his day-to-day responsibilities include supervising his team of software and mechanical engineers, maintaining Electrical Standards and Manufactures Declarations of Compliance (a job he says is “no joke”), and as CEO, also makes higher-level business decisions. At the event, Bel Canto will be introducing three new products: the REF Link USB to AES/SPDIF/ST Fiber Optic Converter, the uLink USB to SPDIF/ST Fiber Optic Converter, and the mLink REF USB to SPDIF Converter, which all feature asynchronous operation.

Chris Connaker/Computer Audiophile, Founder: Connaker will be taking time off his busy schedule of writing product reviews and moderating the forums on his very busy site, Computer Audiophile, to present at Stereo Exchange this weekend. Connaker’s decade plus of experience in managing global IT networks and passion for high quality playback lead him to start ComputerAudiophile.com. At the event, Connaker will discuss how to get started in computer audio, Mac & PC, value proposition with computer audio, and music file storage.

Jonathan Derda/Peachtree Audio, Director of Training and Communication: Derda, a hi-fi wonderboy, started working at his dad’ s shop Audio Exchange at 8 years old, and after spending way too much time self-conducting demos in the Peachtree Room at a Rocky Mountain Audio Show, David Solomon hired him. At Stereo Exchange, Peachtree will be showcasing their new Grand Series, which debuted in October, the DAC•iT (review forthcoming in our May 2012 issue), and new separates, a stand-alone Peachtree220 amplifier ($1399) and the NovaPre ($999).

Roger Gibboni/Rogers High Fidelity, President: As president of Rogers High Fidelity, Gibboni takes on the design engineering and manufacturing management responsibilities. Gibboni will be debuting his new EHG-200 Integrated Tube Amplifier. He’s proud his products are totally American-made, and prepared to share the knowledge he’s gained from years of experience with RCA, NASA, and the US Department of Defense.

Bill Peugh/Sonus Faber, Eastern Regional Manager: Responsible for sales, support and training in the eastern region for Sonus Faber, Peugh started working in hi-fi while in college in the 1970s. He will be demoing the Sonus Faber Aida. The shaky debut of the Aida at Stereo Exchange in December 2011 caused a bit of hubbub in the comments section of Stereophile’s preliminary coverage. The Aidas return to Stereo Exchange with vengeance along with Audio Research amplification.

Michael Latvis/Harmonic Resolution Systems, Founder/Chief Engineer: Michael Latvis founded Harmonic Resoultion Systems over a decade ago after a twenty year engineering career specializing in vibration noise control and motion control systems. He wants to teach attendees that low mechanical noise floor is the foundation of great performance in an audio system and will demonstrate this with his HRS Isolation Base and chassis noise reduction products.

Phew… that’s a lot of great presenters for just one store. Due to the fact that all of these presenters will be at Stereo Exchange all weekend, none will be in attendance at the New York hi-fi show at the Waldorf=Astoria. This is not to say that these manufacturers do not support the Chester Group’s New York Audio & AV Show. In fact, Bel Canto’s John Stronczer made it a point to emphasize Bel Canto’s support for the New York Show, but his company opted to align with the dealer, the closest connection to their customers. Similar answers came from the other presenters as well: the dealer is the key link between the manufacturer and consumer.

Then what role does the show play if not to reach out to consumers who do not regularly have access to all these brands in one place? By having manufacturers in separate locations, it decreases the value of the show itself.

Stereo Exchange and Lyric are hosting these events to take advantage of the human traffic and media coverage that will be buzzing about the big apple as a result of the New York hi-fi show. With such heavy hitters like Totem, Sonus Faber, and Bel Canto not showing at the Waldorf=Astoria, people and press will have to come around and take a listen downtown. The independence from the show while riding on the coattails of its buzz at first seems like a dirty move, but Stereo Exchange does host other dealer events similar to these. Overall, it is just greater benefit to the dealers to bring customers into their store while so many audiophiles are in New York, rather than to pay to rent the hotel room and participate in the show away from their storefront and full product line-up.

What sort of benefits could the Chester Group offer Stereo Exchange to get them to participate in their show rather than creating their own event? I’m not really sure. Stephen Mejias, my cubicle-mate here at Stereophile and the other guy who has been thinking about the role of the hi-fi show, offered the suggestion that if NY show organizers can promise more people/”better people” then possibly NY dealers like Lyric and Stereo Exchange would consider hosting a room at the Waldorf=Astoria, but honestly, there is no reason to do this if you can bring the people to you through interest in your manufacturers and at a lesser cost.

In the end, we are left with a hi-fi show with fewer people, fewer participants, and fewer manufacturers because the crowd has split, a tough spot for the Chester Group, but it’s just business, ya’know?

The Stereo Exchange event is free to attend. There will be refreshments and a raffle. You can find Stereophile staff and writers there throughout the weekend as well as at the New York Audio & AV Show.

********

Facebook event: Let people know you’re going.

Share | |
COMMENTS
JasonVSerinus's picture

This is my personal reaction, and does not reflect my position as a writer for Stereophile: 

So finally, after many years, NYC gets a professional promoter dedicated to creating a major audio show, and the reaction of some dealers is to exploit and compete rather than welcome. As someone who was born in Manhattan, and knows of what I speak, this reeks so much of New York competitiveness and one-upmanship that I hardly have words to describe it. 

When I returned to Manhattan 1970-1972, it was the capitol of divide and conquer: peace groups, social activist groups, women's groups, gay groups, uptown vs. downtown - everyone was warring with each other. It doesn't sound as if anything has changed.

To my way of thinking, the high-end is under assault from a society that places little if any value on high art and culture. Music isn't taught in the schools. Millions upon millions of young people haven't a clue what a violin actually sounds like before it's processed to death in movie soundtracks or pop recording back-up tracks. This is a time when people need to come together and educate one another, not fight with one another over who gets the biggest piece of the shrinking US audiophile market.

What I wonder is if these stores decided the exhibition price was too high, and if they tried to exert pressure on the Chester Group to lower prices, or if they simply crossed their arms and said "No way."  

I also question the statement, "With such heavy hitters like Totem, Sonus Faber, and Bel Canto not showing at the Waldorf=Astoria, people and press will have to come around and take a listen downtown." Says who? I have nothing to do with anyone's decision to cover or not cover the event. But certainly there is no divine writ that demands everything under the sun be covered.

I equally question that attitude that business is business. That may be the capitalist bottom line, but it is not the heartless or vision-less way in which business need be conducted. I just don't buy it, if you get my drift.  

Sorry, the whole thing reeks too much of an end-game scenario for me to remain silent. I find the contrast between this competitive scenario and Salon Son et Image's plans for a traveling high-end set up to tour Canadian music festivals in the coming year, promoting the industry as a whole, extremely painful.

Patrick Butler's picture

Hi Jason,

Shows represent to exhibitors a great opportunity to connect with the public and the press.  However, this comes at a significant cost and must be weighed against the promoters ability to get a relevant section of the public in the front door.  The investment in exhibiting must have some return on the back end, in the form of good press coverage (the press shows up), new dealers, business generated to local dealers, etc.  This is the simple reality of running a business.

Great shows like Salon Son et Image (SSI)are run by people that understand that the industry (and the show) needs to get new attendees every year.  While I see some of the same friendly faces every year at SSI, I mainly see people I do not recognize including women, and families.  Contrast this with what I've heard about last year's New York Show, which was uniformly dismal.  I took a chance exhibiting at a new show last year (TAVES in Toronto) only because the SSI folk were involved.  They hit it out of the park.

At last count, there are 10 shows in North America this year.  Exhibiting at all of them is prohibitively expensive.  SSI, CES, CEDIA,and Rocky Mountain have all earned the trust of exhibitors.  Axpona is moving up in the world.  Whether or not the Chester Group's efforts this year puts them on the "must exhibit" list for next year remains to be seen.  Frankly, I don't blame Stereo Exchange or their vendors for running their own "T.H.E. Show."  These are smart people who have very compelling reasons for not exhibiting, and that tells me something about the nature of this show.   

Ariel Bitran's picture

thank you.

kovan yarrum's picture

Your reply illustrates why you are a writer and not a business person.

Competition is good. 

There never was, and never will be "unity" in high end audio. Post hippy dippy pipe dream.

This is not Occupy XXXX.  What seems "heartless" to you are businesses trying to survive in New York City without being gauged, robbed, and taxed to death.

Ariel Bitran's picture

hey jason, thanks for reading this. you definitely bring up many important points.

 

What I wonder is if these stores decided the exhibition price was too high, and if they tried to exert pressure on the Chester Group to lower prices, or if they simply crossed their arms and said "No way."  

great question. i wonder this too. there had to be line. I'm sure the dealers were approached (in fact I know they were), but the decision comes between do we have a less-than optimal experience in a hotel room or do we bring the people to us and reap a greater experience overall for ourselves at the risk of the event suffering. i hope to cover more solutions in a future post.

I also question the statement, "With such heavy hitters like Totem, Sonus Faber, and Bel Canto not showing at the Waldorf=Astoria, people and press will have to come around and take a listen downtown."

And rightly so. You are correct, there is nothing mandating any press coverage from any company necessarily, but how about asking the question, "what do people want to hear about?" and these are certainly companies that interest the greater public: Peachtree with their innovative approach to integrated amplifiers/DACs, Sonus Faber's gorgeous speakers with mellow moods, or Totem-- all companies with presence. Possibly this sentence is hyperbole, but I know here in the office we're committed to attempting to cover all the events, regardless of who will be there.

I equally question that attitude that business is business. 

I agree. The best businesses survive on ethics/ideals rather than chasing the dollar. And who's to say this event does not meet thebusiness/idealistic goals of connecting with their customers first hand? The real problem, as you point out, is the exclusion of others and partitioning of different teams in the hi-fi business.

JasonVSerinus's picture

Hi Ariel,

I question the assumption that sound in hotel rooms is sub-optimal compared to dedicated showrooms. That is not necessarily my experience. If I had a dollar for every bad demo a Stereophile reader has experienced in an audio showroom, I would have a pair of Sonus Fabers in my living room. Often, even if dealers have done their best to optimize their showroom(s) sonics, the only way they can fit a large group of people in is by turning the demo 90%, thereby activating all the problems they had attempted to mitigate by changing the direction of the speakers in the first place. 

audiodoctornj's picture

Dear Jason,

As a fellow retailor I can both understand Stereo Exchange's and Lyric's position however, I agree with you.

These shows are expensive, howerver, most vendors are more than willing to participate, pool their resources and help defray the costs to do the show, so the actual financial outlay may still be managable.

Other considerations include  time, planning, transportation and labor costs, the flipside, is that a show like this may bring your store potential new clients.

The audio shows that Stereophile ran in the ninties were really exciting as most of the dealers in the entire NY/Metro region showed up, and basically demonstrated their signature products and systems, I remember some of these shows drew retailers from Pennsylvannia, and Delaware! The whole idea of a show is that in one venue an audiophile can experience many different, superb systems from many manufacturers!

Audio Doctor is a new store, we have been in business only seven years, not fifty like Lyric, or however many years Stereo Exchange is in business, however, my view is like yours, I want show goers to personally experience my products. So if a little guy like me can do it, the bigger more established stores can easily do the show!

Audio Doctor  re storming this show, we will have close to $700,000.00 worth of state of the art gear on display in two suites, Lexington with Conrad Johnson and Scaena, and the Beekman with KEF and Chord, in total we will  have four seperate systems to demonstrate!

We will have both state of the art in tubes, Conrad Johnson and state of the art in solid state with, Chord.

We will have three analog systems from the mid priced Nottingham 294 to the higher end Merrill with a Tri Planner tonearm to a new reference grade turntable from Kronos.

We will have four state of the art digital systems from DCS, EMM Labs, Meitner, and AMR.

We will have four speaker systems from the $5,000.00 KEF R 900, the $19,000.00 KEF Reference 207 to the $30,000.00 KEF Blades to the $110,000.00 Scaean Spirtus.

We will have CD players, as well as servers.

I personally extend an invitation to your Jason to come and play the Audio Doctor way, and after the dust clears after the show you can visit the Audio Doctor showrooms where we have four sound rooms, eight listening areas with over 60 lines of gear on display in a stunning restored Victorian home in  nearby Jersey City NJ See you at the show!

Sincerely,

 

Dave Lalin, President, Audio Doctor, www.audiodoctor.com

                                

Ariel Bitran's picture

I question the assumption that sound in hotel rooms is sub-optimal compared to dedicated showrooms.

I'm sorry I was not more specific in my comment. I'm not necessarily talking only about sound, but more the added benefits of performing the demos in your own store: full-product line-up available, bringing customers to your store to see what else you carry, more familiarity with your listening room/less variables to have to control to get the best sound, and exposure for your store. 

JasonVSerinus's picture

Thank you for the invitation, Dave. Unfortunately, my home base in Oakland, CA precludes attendance at the show. My Fruitvale area's gang members, who have recently left graffiti all over the next block, would be bereft to learn that I wasn't here to witness their latest desecrations.

While you are demming at the Waldorf, the hip-hop that some people may wish to play on your systems will play itself out all around our casa.

tao's picture

I don't really have a problem with Stereo Exchange (whom I've purchased from) or Lyric (who I've never been to) having there own events at the same time as the show. In California the attitude is different, but if you actually expected a kinder, gentler NYC you're naive. While many things have changed here, the underlying realities have not. The song "if you can make it there.." still applies. It's always been cutthroat in NYC whatever the spin doctors tell you otherwise. (Yes I am a lifelong New Yorker, can you tell :lol)

On a different topic; Is the show worth going to? I went to the NY Axpona event last year and was under whelmed. The venue was quite frankly disgusting. This event is at the Waldorf so that already is a big plus in my book.  I've been to other (non electronics) trade shows and events and I know how one should run, Axpona NY did not, so is this one worth it or is it also amateur hour?

Seems harsh, well they expect me to pay $28 for a day, travel, food (your in NYC your gonna eat somewhere) as well as using up a valuable weekend day to go to this. So I ask again Is it worth it?

Kal Rubinson's picture

Is it worth it?  Well, we will only know that after the fact.  However, compared to last year, as you point out, the venue is better, the organization and preparation less rushed and the list of participants more interesting and extensive.  One can only hope.

JasonVSerinus's picture

As usual, Kal provides a well-balanced and reasoned response. When my show preview goes live on Monday, some of this first foray's juicy offerings will be spelled out in some detail. 

In the end, "value" is subjective. Certainly, given the higher than usual entrance fee, attendees have the right to expect something special besides the glories of the venue itself. But, in terms of admission price, have you seen how much a Broadway show or a baseball game costs? It's hard to put everything in perspective when the perspective is so skewed.

I like to think I harbor no naivete about New Yorkers, and even less about Californians. Why do you think I left the Big Apple in 1972 and landed in San Francisco? Who woulda thunk, however, that I'd end up in Oakland's barrio, where high-end usually refers to Buicks jacked high off the ground on fancy tires and rims. As Kal says, one can only hope wink

VandyMan's picture

Jason,

I agree 100%. I miss having a major audio show in NYC and am hoping this one will be a big improvement over Axpona last year (which was a waste of time).

I'm in the market for a power amp up to 6K. I simply do not have time to run around town going to different dealers. That is why I'll be at the show and why I'll most likely be spending my money with the dealers that I meet there. 

I don't see how having competing events on the same weekend helps customers. NYC deserves a world class annual audio show and having competing events does not help.

DetroitVinylRob's picture

After all, buying High end Hifi has never been like buying a hot-dog from a street vendor... Stereo Exchange, Lyric, and yes, NYA&Av all offer something unique that I would suggest is poignant, palpable, and highly resolved in their given performance price point. Whether they earn your price of entry is a matter of personal preference. In my experience I would have no problem unequivocally recommending the first two for mentioned for their long standing value, timbral rightness, and inky black noise floor, and the latter with the explicit caveat to the audiophile who may have a greater concern toward the grandiose, sound staging, and is less bothered by a somewhat bearable level of total harmonic distortion and fussiness in presentation. I would also suggest very careful matching with complimentary components to flesh out the best from any of these recommended picks. All would be excellent choices in building a true High End kit for your music listening pleasure.
Happy Listening!

X
Enter your Stereophile.com username.
Enter the password that accompanies your username.
Loading